Solved: identity_insert is set to off

In the world of SQL development, one frequently encountered topic is the IDENTITY_INSERT property. It is a setting within SQL Server that permits users to insert explicit values into the identity column of a table. By default, when you create an identity column in a table, SQL Server automatically generates sequential number values for it whenever a new row is added. However, there might be instances when you’d want to insert a specific value, and this is where IDENTITY_INSERT comes into play. Yet, this setting may cause issues as it’s set off by default. The purpose of this article is to assist you in understanding the nature of this problem and how you can resolve it.

The Solution to Identity_Insert is Set to Off

Broadly speaking, the solution to the problem of IDENTITY_INSERT being set to off is quite simple – you need to set it to ON for the relevant table. This could be done with the following SQL command:


However, it should be noted that you can apply this setting to a single table at a time. Additionally, once your manual insert operation has concluded, you may want to turn this setting off using this command:


Step-by-Step Code Explanation

Though the solution procedure is straightforward, understanding the actual codes is fundamental. For an SQL beginner, the commands above may seem unnerving. However, let’s break them down and clarify what each part means.

The first command has three keywords – “SET”, “IDENTITY_INSERT”, and “ON”. “SET” is an SQL keyword used to assign a particular value to a variable or property. The “IDENTITY_INSERT” is the property that you’re changing, while “ON” is the value you’re setting.

The second command too comprises of three keywords, similar to the first command except the value assigned is “OFF”. The idea here is to set everything back to normal once you’ve achieved your goal of inserting specific data into the identity column.

Relevant Libraries or Functions Involved in This Problem

The IDENTITY_INSERT property is part of the T-SQL (Transact-SQL) dialect, which is Microsoft’s proprietary extension to the SQL language. T-SQL expands upon the standard SQL by adding a variety of features, like procedural programming and local variable support.

Also, for those coming from an ORM (Object-Relational Mapping) background, like Entity Framework, you might face this issue more often. Even though these frameworks abstract away a lot of database-specific nuances, identity insert issues can still crop up, especially when dealing with seed data or performing advanced database operations.

Similar Problems and Their Solutions

Related to IDENTITY_INSERT, you may encounter other situations including duplicate identity values or gaps in identity values. These challenges too, are not unusual and are often the result of deleting records or rolling back transactions.

For handling such occurrences, SQL Server offers a variety of functions and commands. DBCC CHECKIDENT, for instance, lets you manage the current identity value for a specific table. Depending on the real scenario, you can reseed the identity value or simply correct the current identity value as needed.

While SQL can be intimidating at first glance, it’s the clarity of understanding that makes tackling such issues more manageable. The key is to grasp the magic happening behind these codes. As they say, practice does make perfect. Be persistent in experimenting and understanding various SQL scenarios, and you’ll surely master the art of SQL programming.

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